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Mobile Operators and Networks

5G in Africa: realising the potential

5G in Africa is a matter of when, not if. The present-day scenario suggests that 5G mass-market readiness is some way off in the region, but there are reasons to welcome the 5G era despite these challenges, not least because there would otherwise be a risk of exacerbating the digital divide that already exists between Africa and more advanced regions. Beyond that, digital connectivity, with 5G at the core, will shape the way people live and businesses operate in a post-pandemic world.

There are now commercial 5G networks in more than 10 countries in the region, with stakeholders in many more countries expecting commercial 5G to be available in their markets by 2025. By the end of this decade, there will be more than 340 million 5G connections in Africa, equivalent to a fifth of total mobile connections. In the period to 2030, 5G is expected to contribute around $26 billion to Africa’s economy.

Beyond network deployment, customer (consumers and enterprises) adoption and usage are critical to scaling 5G in Africa and improving the business case for more widespread 5G rollout. An enabling policy environment is also essential for the success of 5G in Africa. Accordingly, governments and regulators need to foster a pro-investment and pro-innovation environment to support cost-effective network rollout and the development of innovative use cases to stimulate demand.

To understand the opportunities of 5G in Africa, in the context of the region’s connectivity and socioeconomic landscape, the GSMA, in collaboration with the ITU, conducted a survey of key stakeholders to capture on-the-ground perspectives of the 5G era in countries across the region. The insights in this report have been generated from analysis of anonymised and aggregated responses to the 5G Africa Survey, as well as GSMA Intelligence data and other related market surveys.

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